BBA presents a funny 'whodunit?'
MANCHESTER — "Sorry, we try not to have any fun," Burr and Burton Academy faculty member Jim Raposa said as he walked from the edge of the stage back to the middle of the theater during a recent rehearsal.
The joke came after Raposa — who is directing the school's fall play, "Clue," a production based on the popular 1985 film drawn from the classic, murder-mystery board game — and Matthew Scott, the senior student playing the lead role of Wadsworth, a British butler, together used Raposa's phone to illuminate Scott's face during a soliloquy toward the end of the show. They evidently found the makeshift spotlight amusing, as did students and adults seated in the orchestra, judging from their laughter.
Two and half weeks before the show's premiere at the high school's Riley Center for the Arts, certain facets of the production still needed to be finalized — Raposa "wanted to be much further ahead" at this juncture, he told the cast at the end of the rehearsal — but the episode seemed to corroborate what students involved in the production said about the play: namely, that it's a lot of fun.
If you hadn't seen the movie and only read the premise, you might not presume that to be the case: Six guests, on a dark and stormy night, gather for a dinner party at the home of a host who soon ends up dead. Other characters die, too, as survivors try to figure out what's going on.
But horrors and chaos coalesce with hilarity, thanks in part to witty dialogue and physical comedy. The show's humor has made for an "excellent" rehearsal process, according to Sophie Jager, a junior who plays one of the partygoers, Miss Scarlet, the owner of a brothel in Washington, D.C.
"It's a pretty easy show to like and enjoy working on because it's funny, which then keeps rehearsals fun and bubbly and interesting," she said.
More than 70 BBA students have been involved with the play, including as actors, understudies, assistant directors and costume and set creators.
One of the students working on costumes, Teri Salmon, a sophomore, said that, as part of her process, she went to a friend's house to watch the movie "because I don't have [Amazon] Prime." She frequently paused the film to take notes on characters' outfits. Her friend, perhaps understandably, "got really annoyed at me," she said.
Scott, the senior playing Wadsworth, said the show is ready for an audience, though he cautioned that the comedic vibe cuts both ways. "Once the audience starts laughing," he said, "it'll be hard for us not to be laughing."
"There are still scenes where we all break [character]," Zoe Grigsby, a senior playing Mrs. White, added. Despite this challenge, the play nonetheless represents a "dream scenario" for actors, she said, because its farcical nature means that there are "no restrictions or limits to what you can do."
That said, time is a limiting factor in any actor and show's preparation, something Raposa, as director, sought to impress upon the young cast at the rehearsal's conclusion. He urged everyone to make the play a focus for the next two weeks.
"You cannot, now, go south on me," he said.
Notwithstanding the raucous, laughter-filled rehearsal that preceded it, the serious message seemed to be heard.
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